It’s always fun trying to explain European soccer to an American who has been raised solely on a diet of football and baseball. The concept of promotion and relegation is totally alien to them, as is the notion that one team can play in up to four different “league-type” competitions every season.
A mate of mine used to play in the NFL and we recently spent a whole lunch working through such matters before we arrived at the notion of international matches. The fact that a player could effectively be two-timing his main employer by also turning out for his country blew his mind.
I struggled to explain how those national teams would be made up and the only way he could get his head around it was to think of them as “All-Star” line-ups. FULL POST
Argentina will lift the World Cup on July 13, 2014 - and the country's third triumph in football’s biggest tournament will be the sweetest of them all because it will come in the back yard of South American rivals and hosts Brazil.
Predicting the winner of a major sporting contest is a precarious business for a journalist at the best of times. We’re trained to report the facts, not interpret tea leaves or stare into a crystal ball.
The guessing game for a World Cup, even an educated one, is even harder when it’s done before the teams are drawn into groups – but that’s the task I’ve been given.
Better, then, to face it than live in fear of it. I’ve pinned my colors to Argentina’s mast because they have the will, the skill and the local knowledge to beat their rivals. FULL POST
After nearly 400 games, and over 300 goals, is Lionel Messi suffering from burn out?
I first met and interviewed Messi in December 2005, almost eight years ago.
I recall thinking, if reports of his phenomenal talent are even half true, this teenager could go on to enjoy a top-flight career spanning the best part of twenty years.
And so it’s transpired. Messi has scored an awful lot of goals.
But is that still the case? FULL POST
It’s football’s eternal search for the transfer market’s Holy Grail.
To discover a way where the numbers add up - and just as importantly to correctly interpret those numbers - and cheaply sign a player who goes on to become a star for your team, or someone you sell for a lot of money.
Many have tried and many have failed in trying to bring precision to this imprecise science. FULL POST
They say that "time waits for no man" – except perhaps if you’re a fan of American sports. The United States is the land of opportunity, and on the basketball courts and the playing fields here it represents an opportunity to freeze the clock and make the action last quite a bit longer.
I love most sports, and the ballgames across the pond from my native Britain are no different. But I do so wish they’d hurry up. Football – the one they play with their hands – lasts exactly 60 minutes on the clock but it takes over three hours from start to finish. Basketball is a game of four equal quarters and it should take just 48 minutes, but an average NBA contest lasts three times that – two hours and a quarter. FULL POST
While Italian football club Internazionale acquired new owners last week, there were also profound changes going on at city rival AC Milan.
The club that has won the Italian league 18 times and the European Champions League seven times is rethinking its youth structure’s organization - in future, Milan officials hope to tap in to the power of the brain.
For cerebral help, they have turned to a couple of Belgians - former Standard Liege coach Jose Riga and pioneering youth coach Michel Bruyninckx - to help influence the way the club develops its young players.
Milan has long had a reputation as a club that leaves nothing to chance in the pursuit of excellence. This after all is the team with its very own science establishment - the MilanLab - which it describes as a “high tech interdisciplinary scientific research center” to provide “the best possible management of individual well being and health” for its players. FULL POST